Katatonia
Dethroned & Uncrowned


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
September 3rd, 2013 | 87 replies | 12,938 views


Release Date: 09/09/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Deconstruction without dilution, potency with no permanence

Dead End Kings was perhaps the most satisfying musical moment of last year, not only because musically it was such a noteworthy album but because it was so monumental for Katatonia. They had been searching for the sound captured there for years, and it was so liberating to hear everything come together in an album that was, for the first time in a while for the band, a complete package. From beginning to end, the shades of murky gray that the album’s atmosphere conjures were clear and defined instead of smeared together, and the schism between the band’s heaviness and mellowness was no longer such a discernible gap. Fitting, then, that Katatonia decided to deconstruct their work and filter it to a pure essence; a straight shot of melancholy and depression that manifests in the minimalist soundscapes of Dethroned and Uncrowned.

So-called “acoustic” albums are a bit of a buzzword in the music industry, it seems, because all it really is is a band approaching the same songs from a different angle. Whether or not that angle proves to be of interest or even any different from the parent material is entirely up to the vision and talent of the band. Katatonia, thankfully, have that eye for detail, but if anything they were not daring enough. The inspirational material from Dead End Kings wasn’t the most daring place to pull from, no, but the songs lend themselves well to the deconstruction that Dethroned and Uncrowned lays out for us. “Hypnone” is more evocative than its full-fledged twin on Dead End Kings, due in large part to those small tweaks and twists that make albums like this worth listening to. The production has an echo to it that makes everything seem distant and eerie – something that the base material lends itself well to. If anything, the atmosphere on Dethroned and Uncrowned is immediately more gratifying, but not necessarily longer lasting.

That’s where the album is a bit puzzling, because while the mood is amplified, there isn’t the clashing of heavy and soft to drive home a given emotion. It’s not as obvious a juxtaposition of anger and sadness, because there isn’t an instrumental element present to adequately convey the former, leaving us with an overabundance of the latter. It’s quite powerful at first, but in an album of eleven tracks – and an acoustic album at that, where atmosphere is everything - there just needs to be more than one facet to keep it all engaging. “Buildings” just isn’t the same without the heavy chords, and the sublime bliss of “The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here” is not as refreshing despite the brilliant new acoustic guitars because the entire rest of the album poses no diverging emotions. It’s using just one piece of what made Dead End Kings so amazing, forgetting that the other pieces are necessary to re-create the full picture.

All of that said, Dethroned and Uncrowned is put together using a master’s hand. The accents are there in all the right places, whether it’s the acoustic guitars gently dancing in the background of “The Racing Heart” or the re-vamped synths of “Dead Letters”. The band knew when to change it up with a new riff or when to accentuate a well-known riff with another instrument or to just play it in a different way, and that is half the battle of an acoustic album. This makes the album still a joy to listen to, because they did what they set out to do: take Dead End Kings and show us another side of that same coin. If anything, Dethroned and Uncrowned makes me love Dead End Kings even more, because it shows just how gifted Katatonia are at bridging the gap between heaviness and ambiance – it’s just that it took them removing the heaviness for you to realize it. Still, if you start out with a brilliant album like Dead End Kings it is hard to ruin the magic that was present right from the start. This album is nothing but enjoyable the entire way through, but that is true only because of the strength of the material they used to frame it all – not because the acoustic nature of the album lifts the old songs to new heights. That is only a minor fault, though, because anyone who enjoyed Dead End Kings will have no trouble at all listening to Dethroned and Uncrowned over and over again. However, at the end of the day this album will never have its own identity, and will always be overshadowed by the material that spawned it.




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user ratings (73)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Vespiion
September 3rd 2013



1221 Comments


Excellent summary/review.

Digging: FKA Twigs - LP1

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



16309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you. First review in several months due to chaos IRL.

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

Willie
Moderator
September 3rd 2013



15908 Comments


Nice review. I wish I liked their last album as much as you did. I'm a fan of Night is a New Day. I thought that was their (near) perfect blend.

SCREAM!
September 3rd 2013



10031 Comments


Listening to this for the first time now. I'm at Hypnone and I find it odd that you prefer this version of the song over the original.

Digging: Old Witch - Come Mourning Come

NeroCorleone80
September 3rd 2013



28751 Comments


Good review. Def gonna check this as I really enjoyed the record. Thought it was their best in years.

Digging: Howlin Wolf - Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' in the Moonlight

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



16309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A couple of the songs here are better than on Dead End Kings, but the fact that they are packed in
with songs so similar in atmosphere makes you not realize it as much.

NeroCorleone80
September 3rd 2013



28751 Comments


I imagine the more mellow tracks sound better on here

SCREAM!
September 3rd 2013



10031 Comments


I'm pretty disappointed so far. The Parting, Hypnone and The Racing Heart all sound neutered without the heavy parts (Leech as well but to a lesser extent). Since Buildings was one of the heavier songs I find that it's one of the more interesting so far since it's more of a drastic change from the original. The One You Are Looking For... is nicely done.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



16309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I imagine the more mellow tracks sound better on here


Very, very true.

scissorlocked
September 3rd 2013



3509 Comments


have checked none of their albums since The Great Cold Distance

seems like this one deserves some listens

Digging: Leon Vynehall - Music For The Uninvited

SCREAM!
September 3rd 2013



10031 Comments


Get Dead End Kings before this

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



1858 Comments


Well, did not know about this compilation! I'll be sure to give it a listen though.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



5997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Dead End Kings was perhaps the most satisfying musical moment of last year, not only because musically it was such a noteworthy album but because it was so monumental for Katatonia.

What I heard in that album was a band with a severe burnt out syndrome, because its predecessor is their current magnum opus by far. But to each his own, I guess.


I wish I liked their last album as much as you did. I'm a fan of Night is a New Day. I thought that was their (near) perfect blend.

Agreed 100%.



Needless to say, excellent review, I will check this out eventually.

Digging: Lisa Gerrard - Twilight Kingdom

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



7351 Comments


Great review... though I don't agree with the first sentence.

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Tyrael
September 3rd 2013



20822 Comments


Kyle, this is just as good as anything you've written before

Would pos if I could

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



16309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man I didn't realize I was this alone in regards to how much I like Dead End Kings!

SCREAM!
September 3rd 2013



10031 Comments


I'm mostly with you Kyle, don't worry! I'd give the first 5 tracks on that album a near perfect rating together. After Buildings I find that the album loses a little momentum but it's still a great listen

Underflow
September 3rd 2013



2554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dead End Kings felt like a tired, beaten retread to me. Granted, I enjoyed it, and some of its tracks
should be Katatonia staples (i.e. The Racing Heart, Buildings, Dead Letters), but on the whole it was
an underwhelming release. This takes that and sucks most of the life out of it. Totally unnecessary.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2013



16309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I find that the album loses a little momentum but it's still a great listen


I definitely agree that the first half is stronger but tracks like "Leathen" and "Dead Letters" really make the last half quite good.

Tyrael
September 3rd 2013



20822 Comments


Dead End Kings was fantastic, Kyle

m/



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